Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 649–671 | Cite as

Testing the effects of a role model intervention on women’s STEM outcomes

  • Amanda R. Van CampEmail author
  • Patricia N. Gilbert
  • Laurie T. O’Brien


Female role models show promise for inoculating women against the harmful impact of stereotypes impugning their ability in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM, e.g., Dasgupta in Psychol Inq 22(4):231–246, 2011). We conducted a test of an intervention to leverage the benefits of STEM role models. Female STEM majors (N = 72) in their first year of college were exposed to same-sex role models on two occasions. They completed measures of stereotypes and other STEM outcomes at the beginning of their first semester (pre-manipulation) and again at the end of their first semester (post-manipulation). Women who were assigned to engage in a process of reflective identification with the STEM role models (i.e., reflect on their similarity in a writing passage) showed greater change in implicit and explicit stereotypes compared to women who were exposed to STEM role models, but did not engage in reflection. Among women exposed to role models, role model identification was negatively related to explicit stereotypes and positively related to STEM outcomes including GPA in STEM courses.


Women STEM Role-models Stereotypes 



This research was partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation: HRD0936722. We thank Jane Stout for providing copies of study materials and Alexandra Marcovicci and India Reidt for their assistance with data coding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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